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Big Idea Award

The Stamps School of Art & Design, with generous support from the Stamps Family, friends, and other supporters in the community, proudly offers the Big Idea Award in memory of alumna Penny W. Stamps (1944-2018).

The award provides one Stamps senior or eligible team $25,000 to help launch a major, ambitious project after graduation. The winner will be announced as part of the Stamps Commencement celebrations. A committee of external reviewers nominated by Stamps faculty and representing a wide range of expertise will determine the winner. Last year’s inaugural Big Idea Award recipient was Erin Wakeland (BFA ‘20) for her big idea, Camp I Prefer.

“What’s your big idea?” Penny Stamps asked graduates in her April 2018 commencement speech. “What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your sweat equity in pursuing outside the walls of the University of Michigan? You have your artistic skills — now develop your ideas, your big idea,” she said. “Imagination has no limits.”

The Big Idea Award aims to motivate students to develop ambitious aspirations that reflect the values of a Stamps education; accelerate progress toward achieving those aspirations; and encourage students to rise to the challenge put forth by Penny W. Stamps.

Start your application →

  • Individual applicants: Any Stamps undergraduate major in good academic standing and graduating in December 2020, May 2021, or August 2021 as established by an academic audit by the SWAPC staff.
  • Team applicants: Stamps senior(s) who meet the academic audit criteria stated above may submit a project undertaken by a team of students. Teams can include Stamps students who are not yet seniors. While the team will be acknowledged in storytelling about the award, the award itself -- and the financial disbursement -- will only be distributed to Stamps senior(s). If a Stamps senior(s) is considering a team submission, they should be the author of the idea, and be acknowledged amongst their team as the project “lead(s)”. If there is more than one Stamps senior on the team, only one should submit an application. The application will ask that student to specify how the funds should be distributed by percentage to all Stamps seniors on the team.
  • Applicants may be of any citizenship.
Criteria for Award

Applicants will be evaluated on their ability to clearly and convincingly articulate the following via the application process:

  • A singular, focused, and ambitious Big Idea
  • A commitment to spend their moral and intellectual capital to their Big Idea
  • A commitment to pursue the Big Idea after graduation

Additionally, students will need to provide evidence of being able to successfully execute their Big Idea. Items to consider include:

  • Experience, skills, and preparation relevant to achieving the Big Idea
  • Ability to gather needed resources
  • Feasibility of the proposed activities

​As part of the application process, finalists will request up to two references - one reference from a Stamps faculty member is required. SlideRoom will email the referrers/faculty member(s) with a form for completion by March 23, 2021 at 11:59 pm.

  • Feb 14, 2021: Application submission deadline
  • Mar 15, 2021: Finalists are notified and prompted for references
  • Mar 23, 2021: Reference submission deadline for finalists
  • Apr 14, 2021: Awardee notified
  • Apr 26, 2021: Unsuccessful applicants notified
  • May 1, 2021: Award announced as part of the Stamps Commencement Celebrations.

Please contact Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Services Veronica Falandino at vvergoth@umich.edu.